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Contemplating Music - Joseph Kerman

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Contemplating Music - Challenges to Musicology
Joseph Kerman
Paperback / softback
Harvard University Press
UK Publication Date

With this book, Joseph Kerman establishes the place of music study firmly in the mainstream of modern intellectual history. He treats not only the study of the history of Western art musicwith which musicology is traditionally equatedbut also sometimes vexed relations between music history and other fields: music theory and analysis, ethnomusicology, and music criticism. Kerman sees and applauds a change in the study of music toward a critical orientation. As examples, he presents fascinating vignettes of Bach research in the 1950s and Beethoven studies in the 1960s. He sketches the work of prominent scholars and theorists: Thurston Dart, Charles Rosen, Leonard B. Meyer, Heinrich Schenker, Milton Babbit, and many others. And he comments on such various subjects as the amazing absorption of Stephen Foster's songs into the canons of "black" music, the new intensity of Verdi research, controversies about performance on historical instruments, and the merits and demerits of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Contemplating Music is filled with wisdom and trenchant commentary. It will spark controversy among musicologists of all stripes and will give many musicians and amateurs an entirely new perspective on the world of music.

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Joseph Kerman is Professor of Music, Emeritus, at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer at Harvard University for 1997–98.

A masterly exposition of what Kerman views as the pivotal intellectual issues surrounding postwar musical studies-an exposition that even his critics would readily concede him to be uniquely qualified to undertake. Musicians of all sorts ought to view this as a give music the balanced critical attention it deserves.
New York Review of Books - Robert Winter

Nothing less than a Who's Who of musicology, and a What's What of theory, analysis, and musical philosophy.
New York Times Book Review - Erich Leinsdorf

A gracefully polemical survey of 'modern ideas and ideologies of music,' in the course of which the author touches upon many aspects of music and musical life in the 20th century. Important and consistently stimulating.
Los Angeles Times Book Review - David Hamilton

A timely proposal, and one well worth investigating for anyone who is interested in music as a discipline. It represents a useful, and indeed unique, attempt to map out in English the issues of our day.
Times Literary Supplement - Christopher Wintle

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